CLEARWATER, Fla. – The No. 5/7 Clemson Tigers captured two victories on the third day of the NFCA Leadoff Classic after defeating Liberty, 7-3, in the early afternoon before topping No. 15/17 Oregon, 3-2, in the primetime matchup on MLB Network. With the two wins, Clemson moves to 4-0 on the season.
“It was a great opportunity for the Tigers to play a game on MLB Network today,” said Head Coach John Rittman. “It’s a great recognition for our program. We had a great day with an early win against Liberty and a tough fought win this evening against Oregon. Freshman Olivia Duncan got her first start in the circle for us in the opening game against Liberty, and Brooke McCubbin went lights out for us to earn her second win on the year.
Tonight’s game was a back-and-forth battle, and I love the way we responded after Oregon scored. We had some big plays defensively, including Alia Logoleo making a great play at third. McKenzie Clark was a spark plug for us all day, and Maddie Moore hit the ball really hard down. The game was really sparked with Valerie (Cagle) and Julia (Knowler) came up clutch with hits that allowed Alia to have the big squeeze bunt to score the go-ahead run. Millie (Thompson) gave us a couple quality innings to put Valerie in a position to close things out. Really proud of our effort. Big day tomorrow with a tough matchup against Missouri, but we are looking forward to it.”
Game 1 – Liberty (W, 7-3)
The Tigers picked up their third victory of the 2024 season after tallying seven runs off nine hits in a seven inning battle against the Liberty Flames. Redshirt senior Alia Logoleo led the charge for the Tigers with three hits, while graduate Lindsey Garcia added two. Both Logoleo and Garcia picked up a RBI as well as McKenzie Clark, Julia Knowler and JoJo Hyatt.
Despite Liberty taking an early 2-0 lead in the first, the Tiger offense responded in the bottom halves of the first three innings, plating at least one run in each inning. Logoleo began the efforts for the Tigers with a bases-loaded single that had Garcia and Hyatt bringing home runners after being hit by a pitch and drawing a walk, respectively. Clemson led 3-2 after one.
The Tigers loaded the bases again in the second to allow Clark and Alex Brown score off a wild pitch and throwing error by the Flame’s catcher in the same play. Clark tallied her RBI in the third inning off a bases-loaded walk. Liberty got one run back in the top of the fourth, but Clemson sealed the victory with a Knowler single that had Clark scoring her second run of the game.
Junior Brooke McCubbin earned her second victory of the year in the circle after pitched 5.1 innings with four strikeouts. She forced nine flyouts and three ground outs while throwing 87 pitches, 64 strikes, in the win. Freshman Olivia Duncan made her first appearance as a Tiger getting the start in the circle. She threw 1.2 innings and finished with one strikeout.
Game 2 – No. 15/17 Oregon (W, 3-2)
Similar to the opening game on the day, the visitors, Oregon, struck first in the top of the first with a sac fly. The Tigers evened it in the bottom half of the first with a sac fly of their own after Clark hit a leadoff double, stole third and was brought home by Brown’s sac fly to left center. It remained even at 1-all until Oregon secured another sac fly to score a runner from third and make it 2-1 in the Ducks’ favor.
Clemson responded in the inning as Cagle led off with a single and Knowler advanced her to third with a double into deep left center. Cagle came home as Logoleo executed a squeeze to even things at 2-2 and have runners on the corner with no outs. Maddie Moore hit a single into shallow center to plate Kennedy Ariail, who was running for Knowler, from third. The Tigers ended the fourth inning with a 3-2 advantage.
Logoleo was making plays on both offense and defense as she followed up her squeeze with a web gem snag at third base in the top of the fifth inning. Clemson’s defense dug in to turn over Oregon’s lineup and force the Ducks’ to leave three runners stranded over the course of the seven-inning contest.
Senior Millie Thompson started in the circle for the Tigers and put together two complete innings working through the Ducks’ entire lineup. Cagle replaced her in the top of the third and pitched the remaining five innings. She faced 17 batters, striking out five, including the final out of the game.
The Tigers conclude opening weekend tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. with a matchup against Missouri. Fans can listen to the game on the ClemsonTigers App or by tuning into 105.5 TheROAR and stream the matchup on GameChanger by following the links on the Clemson Softball schedule page.